Formation of plutonium(iv) silicate species in very alkaline reactive media†
Studying the speciation of Pu(IV) in very alkaline and silicate ion rich reactive media allowed identification of the formation of plutonium(IV)-silicate colloidal suspensions which were stable for months. These colloids were stabilized in aqueous solution for pH > 13 and for concentrations around 10−2 mol L−1. Successive filtration processes allowed evaluation of their size, which was found to be smaller than 6 nm. Their structural characterization by XAS evidenced that their structure was similar to those identified for the other tetravalent actinide-silicate colloidal systems like thorium, uranium and neptunium. Their formation could explain the increase of plutonium solubility usually observed in alkaline silicate-rich solutions and could affect the plutonium mobility as a result in contaminated sites or in other environmental permeable media.